Protracted search for VOODOO fighter jet
Saturday 9 May 1964
When I returned to Kinloss on the morning train I found that the team had been out since Thursday morning looking for a USAF F101 Voodoo aircraft crashed in Lochaber or Ardgour. I snatched some sleep after two nights on the train and reached Fort William in the evening.
Sunday 10 May
The team moved to Laggan and stayed at Aberarder Farm. I directed the search of the area allotted to us – Creag Meagaidh and surrounding hills.
Monday 11 May
We moved to Glencoe last night and camped at a main road layby. Today in reasonable dry weather but with cloud down to 2,000 ft, I searched with Keith Charge, Bob Spencer and John Brys. We went from Achnacon in Glencoe to Meall Mόr. Then we split up. Keith and Bob went over Sgorr a’ Choise while John and I did Creag Bhàn, Meall Lighiche, Meall an Aodainn, and down into Glen Creran, to the school at Coille Mheadonach.
Tuesday 12 May
Heavy rain and clag below 1,700 ft at first but the cloud lifted somewhat in the afternoon. Very strong winds. Some of the team were suffering hardships in the tents last night, lying in pools of very cold water. MacInnes says he has never known a May like this one. The ragged clouds lying in strands along the hillsides are picturesque but look menacing below the general cloud base at about 2,800′.
I was with Spike and Bob Spencer today on the south side of the Black Mount hills. By road via Bridge of Orchy to Clashgour. With water everywhere on the hills we made a circuit round the lochan lying at 2,250 ft in the NE corrie of Stob Gabhar and then we went up the W ridge of Stob a’ Choire Odhair. Bob and I lost Spike on the ridge due to spreading out looking for a/c wreckage in mist and violent S wind. Both parties relieved when we remade contact at Clashgour. Hospitality from Mr & Mrs Angus Cameron.
Wednesday 13 May
With Goldie Golton in rain and mist, at times with new snow and sleet blowing upwards through the cols, but not lying on the rocks. We had good views of all nearby hills at times. Butty Sutherland and Bob Spencer walked with us from Altnafeadh to the top of Devil’s Staircase but they were tired from so many days of searching and went down the path to Kinlochleven. Goldie and I did the whole Aonach Eagach to Sgorr nam Fiannaidh and descended to Clachaig Inn by the path to the west of Clachaig. We had some trouble finding the path in clag at the top and had to do some traversing on rock and steep heather.
Thursday 14 May
Good weather. With Spike, Ross McKerron and Geordie Armstrong. From Barravourich (Water of Tulla) up steep grass and a broken rocky ridge to the summit of Beinn Achallader. Fast run down, with Spike only, in 20 minutes to the starting place by a slightly different route. We looked out over Rannoch Moor for the crashed Voodoo, using binoculars. A Leuchars helicopter was also searching the moor.
Saturday 16 May
A USAF C47 found the crash yesterday and it was reported on the summit of Creach Bheinn (2,800 ft) in Ardgour. Nine of us went up there in mist from the Carnoch River in Glen Tarbert. We did not find the a/c at first – not surprising as it was a mile to the east. We met a shepherd, John Shaw, who joined us. When the mist cleared we spotted the wreck on Maol Odhar (c. 2,600 ft) and went to it. The remains of the single fatality had been flown out by an American helicopter crew. The point of impact was at 2,550 ft at 883578. The a/c had flown in from a quadrant between North and East and hit a steep loose cliff less than 30 ft below the lip of the corrie. The impact or explosion had loosened a lot of soil and rock and there were pieces of wreckage all down the cliff into the corrie. Recovery of all wreckage would be a hazardous job even for trained mountain rescuers. The whole summit of Meall Odhar for about ⅜ of a mile in any direction was littered with wreckage. There were even tiny bits of wreckage to be found not far from the road in Glen Tarbert, two miles away.
Photos taken in Allt Coire nam Frithallt on 30th April 2013